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Help count birds; it’ll be a hoot!

Help count birds; it’ll be a hoot!

For 120 years, volunteers across the country have participated in the annual Christmas Bird Count to help wildlife agencies and biologists direct conservation and efforts. Families and friends across the Brazos River basin can join the excursion of counting birds as part of preservation efforts.

The donation-based Christmas Bird Count is organized through the National Audubon Society. Tens of thousands of volunteers help tally birds but several areas across the state, and the nation, still need help. Roughly 5% of the North American landmass was surveyed by the count in 2018, according to the organization.

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So, I can just step outside and start counting?

Not quite.

Unlike the Backyard Bird Count held during the summer, each designated area for the Christmas Bird Count has a leader at the site, a compiler, who initiates the efforts. Interested volunteers can search for a count near them here and then reach out to the compiler to RSVP. All Christmas Bird Count data must be submitted through the official compiler to be added to the long-running census, so it’s important to make contact with the organizer in your area. The count runs between Dec. 14, 2019 and Jan. 5, 2020. Your local count will occur on one day between those dates.

There’s no cost, except your time. Think of it as a giant community science project.

The National Audubon Society, a nonprofit conservation organization, uses science, advocacy, education and conservation to help protect birds’ future, according to the organization’s website. The data collected each year provides wildlife agencies and conservation biologists a vast array of information, painting a picture of how bird populations have changed in time and space. The data helps illuminate and identify environmental issues and necessary strategies to help protect the future for all birds.

The Christmas Bird Count is a great tradition and opportunity for everyone to be a part of ongoing community science, said Geoff LeBaron, Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count director in a press release.

“Adding your observations to 12 decades of data helps scientists and conservationists discover trends that make our work more impactful,” LeBaron wrote. “Participating in the Christmas Bird Count is a fun and meaningful way to spend a winter for anyone and everyone.”

In 2018, there were a record-setting 2,615 count circles, with 1,975 counts in the United States, according to the organization. Each count covers a 15-mile-wide circle and there are several along the Brazos River basin.

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Some of the counts include locations in the upper Brazos basin, including, Palo Pinto County, Abilene, and Lubbock. Some of the counts occurring in the Central Basin are in Waco, Belton, and Round Rock. Lots of counts are being held in the lower basin, including in Bryan-College Station, Lake Jackson, and West Columbia.

To search for a count near you, click here. For more information, go to the National Audubon Society website here.

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